MOSCOW, January 21 - RAPSI. North Korea has allowed approved the use of personal mobile phones by foreigners to bring their personal mobile phones into the country and to use local mobile operators within its country, Xinhua News Agency reported on Monday.

Formerly, foreigners were required to leave their phones at customs and reclaim them when leaving the country.

An employee of Koryolink, the North Korean-Egyptian joint venture which operates the 3G phone network, told Xinhua that the change became effective on January 7, 2013.

Upon entering the country, foreigners must complete a registration form for their mobile phones to be assigned a special identification number which gives them access to 3G mobile services.

North Korea's 3G mobile network has 1.8 million subscribers, who can only use their phones for local calls and text messages. They cannot make international calls.
Foreigners can make international calls, but are currently not allowed to use the Internet. In addition, they cannot phone each other because of different settings on their SIM cards, Xinhua said, citing the Koryolink employee.

Mobile Internet is expected to be made accessible for foreigners in North Korea in the near future.

The North Korean authorities strictly control the use of the Internet in the country.

Only three North Korean universities have access to the Internet: Kim Il-sung University, Kim Chaek University of Technology and Pyongyang University of Science and Technology.